Those Still Living In Pre-OS-X World Need To ?Let It Go,? Cuz All Our Mac Are Belong To Unix

Edited at 5:40 p.m. CST to update headline and correct some typos, etc.

When the change-makers were finished working their magic, the daughters grinned like the little girls they used to be. Once the show began, the mothers, whoid claimed they were fine just the way they were, actually seemed to be preening as they strutted around the stage with their freshly painted faces and temporary finery. Soon theyid go back home, wash off the makeup, put on their old clothes, and step back into their old lives. Maybe what intrigued Maxine most about makeovers was just how ephemeral the change was. What remained after the makeup was washed off, the new hairdo had wilted, and the new clothes were returned was the durability of the old self, the tenacity of emotions and habits that resisted beautification.

Singing in the Comeback Choir, Bebe Moore Campbell

When Apple introduced System 7 several years ago, there were people who resisted and preferred to keep using older versions of what came to be known as the Mac OS. You know the kind of person Iim talking about.

When Apple switched from "68k" to PowerPC processors, there were similar "hold outs," acolytes to the Old Way of doing things. You know that kind, too. I know people who are proud that they are using Mac OS 8.1. You know the kind. I know even more people who, for a continuum of reasons, have decided not to ever switch to Mac OS X. There is a subset of these people who refuse to switch to OS X because they believe this new OS is the worst move the company has ever made and will be the single action that spirals the company into nonexistence. Those people hate OS X, as well as all that it represents, and believe that history will prove them right.

You know the kind.

These people, these "hold outs," are headed for a crash on the road ahead. The proof, the handwriting on the wall, is well-written and very readable. The clues are scattered here and there, and, when put together, form only one, inescapable conclusion: OS X is no longer Appleis future; it is now Appleis present.

Look at the handwriting: Most of the major critical-mass applications for the Mac are now in OS X form, and with the advent of a carbonized Adobe Photoshop next month, the application front will be virtually complete.

Look at the handwriting: Apple has made OS X the default operating system on new Macs, a clear message to the developer community that if they donit fast-track OS X conversions of their key applications, that a nimbler and more OS X savvy startup could very well take more than market share from them.

There are other indicators that could be pointed out, but an even clearer indicator is coming to light, a signal development that the Mac world will never be the same. This development clearly shows that the "holds outs" from the OS X train will be left so far behind that eventually the word "anachronism" will be too simplistic a definition for their time-warped status and mentality.

"Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come," someone once said, and in this weekis web news we can see Appleis latest idea being taken up by the newest members of the Mac community: Unix users.

The Unix community has done more than taken notice. Anecdotal evidence shows that Unix and Linux users are giving wide glance at OS X, even going so far as buying Macs and making the full plunge to OS X, seeing it as the logical conclusion to the promises made by the Linux movement.

For the Mac community, this changes things. With the arrival of true Unix users, the Mac world is forever changed. The Mac community is now the home of scientists, hobbyists and God-honest, everyday users who break once and for all the stereotype of the Mac user as the artists, the teachers and the people who are proud to be computing idiots (those who like "computers for the rest of us").

The Mac is officially beyond an easy interface with nothing beneath the surface but AppleEvents. The Mac is now a platform that is easily accessible on two levels, that of the novice and that of the geek.

The Mac is now the computer for all of us.

I realized this when I installed XDarwin this weekend (XDarwin is the OS X version of the popular X Window Unix environment). XDarwin opens a whole new world of applications to the Macintosh, applications that the "old Mac users" probably wonit fully appreciate.

Now that the Mac has the potential of complementing, if not replacing platforms like Sun workstations, NT servers and Linux boxes, there is no way that this genie is going back into the bottle. This camelis nose is under the tent, and the rest of the camel is better than it looks.

Taking the Mac to its fullest potential requires expanding beyond the markets of creative content makers and education. For Apple to make its resurgence complete, expansion will have to be made into the enterprise sector -- regardless of what the company says publicly.

It isnit unreasonable to picture Apple with 15-, 20- or even 25 percent market share. Even with conservative estimates, pure Unix has a sizable market share by itself. And wherever there exists Unix, there exists a potential desktop upon which to place Mac OS X.

I believe that the "hold outs" may be left behind, because they have to be left behind. There is no place for the hold outs in the future Mac OS. For too long, Apple catered to them and that held back the evolution and growth of the Mac as a consumer device and as a business machine. Unix wasnit necessarily the key to Appleis success before the advent of OS X, but now that the Unix die has been cast, OS X is the lock, stock and barrel.

Apple has no choice but to create and fine tune its OS X for future users, only making it "Mac like" enough to pacify the old users until the real market-share growth begins.

"Hold outs," you have a few years to get with the program. You have been warned.


Suggested/Additional reading:

"How a Linux Lover Turned to a Macintosh" - Gameris Press

"The New Mac User" - OiReilly Net

"The Changing Mac Community" - OiReilly Net

"Iim a Drop the Funk Bomb on Ya: Milking the Macintosh for All Itis Worth" - iBrotha, Low End Mac

"OS X Is Coming: Watch Out, You May Be A Reactionary Luddite" - Bryan Chaffin, The Mac Observer

Rodney O. Lain is finally getting a "grep" on Unix. Get it? "Getting a grep"? Anyway... Rodney writes his "iBrotha" column for The Mac Observer, as well as the occasional editorial. When he isnit trying to plumb the depths of the command line, he is an IT supervisor for a Fortune 50 company somewhere in Minnesota.